Presenters have been trained to eliminate all personal anxieties in order to engage the audience. However, they rarely notice physical nonverbal speech barriers such as lecterns. These are traditionally used as stands to place your notes on. However, it can keep you from grabbing your audience’s attention and building a connection with them.
Why do most effective public speakers never use it? Can it be used effectively?
The answer is, lecterns can help or hinder your marketing pitches, depending on how and when you use it.
Pros and Cons
Most politicians use lecterns in formal settings because it lets them project authority.
Even pastors use lecterns to hold their notes, bibles, and other sermon materials. But they don’t stay there all the time. For example, Joel Osteen, the Houston’s Lakewood Church’s famous pastor, never stays behind the lectern. He maintains eye contact and interacts with the audience, walking around the stage without looking at his notes.
For some public speakers, lecterns block them off from their viewers, preventing full engagement. This physical barrier keeps the crowd from seeing the presenter’s body language, non-verbal cues, posture and gestures.
Proper Use of Lecterns
Staying behind a lectern is different from standing behind it occasionally. Sometimes, you have to stand behind it due to its built-in mic and limited stage space. Other times, lecterns are unnecessary in venues such as conference rooms. Whether you can freely move around or are stuck in one place, involve your listeners by keeping eye contact no matter where you go.
Staying away from the lectern increases your chances of connecting with your audience. They’re also more likely to listen because they see you standing openly in front of them.
No matter where you deliver your marketing pitches, practice and prepare your speech so you can deliver your message without looking at your notes back at the lectern.
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Donovan, J. “How To Speak Behind A Lectern.” SpeakingSherpa. 2012. Accessed July 3, 2015.
“Public Speaking.” Atlantic International University. Accessed June 3, 2015.